Your typical hydroelectric plant isn't going to win many architecture awards - industrial or efficiency awards, yes, but not architecture. Nevertheless the Iller Hydroelectric Plant in Kempten, Germany designed by Becker Architekten took home three architecture awards in the last year. Organic in form, the concrete power station is more sculptural than industrial, making a far greater visual impact than some boring old plant. Plus, the project also included the construction of a pedestrian and bike bridge across the Iller River. Who says power plants can't be a thing of beauty?
The new Iller River hydroelectric station replaces a 50 year old station, and transforms the riverscape into one that is less pragmatic and more artistic. Becker Architekten, who were chosen by the city for their innovative take on industrial architecture, decided to highlight the power plant through its form. The smooth flow of the 150 meter long plant to funnel water into the turbines shows its river-like nature. Modern and organic at the same time, the plant stands apart from the scene, but it also flows naturally into the space like a large boulder the river must flow around.
Completed in November 2010, the plant supplies enough power for 4,000 households and 14 gWh of electricity annually. The exterior of the plant is smooth white concrete like a giant pebble, while the interior is cavernous and formed with rough wooden boards to build the forms. Inside the turbine hall, it is all business with industrial finishes and the highest sound proofing standards. As a final touch to the power station and river, Becker Architekten integrated a steel pedestrian and bicycle bridge into the project. So far the plant has won the German Architecture Prize 2011 Concrete, the pbb German commercial award 2010 and was a finalist for the 2010 Liechtenstein International Award for Sustainable Building in the Alps.
Images ©Brigida González